MilkWeed: Color Fields – The Landscape of the Saguaro Palm Springs

03.27.12 | By
MilkWeed: Color Fields – The Landscape of the Saguaro Palm Springs

If you’ve been in Target or Gap lately, you’ll know that bright colors are back this season. So the new Joie de Vivre hotel, The Saguaro Palm Springs has either timed its debut perfectly or is destined to be out of fashion before Palm Springs sizzles this summer.

Reviews for the delightful palette of the new Saguaro have been strong, all photos highlight the rows of cellular rooms each painted in a different color like a rainbow against the blue desert sun. But at a stay there in February right after its opening, the sometimes contrasting, sometimes congruous colors of the grounds will make it outlive the hype after the surface colors may fade.

In the remodel of a former Holiday Inn, Peter Stamberg of Stamberg Aferiat Architecture, used color as the primary design addition. Almost every surface of the hotel was repainted with a bright color palette creating a sibling hotel to the similarly radiant Saguaro Scottsdale, which we highlighted as a Destination Design. But for Palm Springs, the fourteen colors that adorn the exterior and courtyard of each unit were purportedly chosen directly from the blooms of the surrounding desert. Three stories of rooms ring a central courtyard, so all rooms share in the central oasis of the pool, a dry landscape game area and a lush green lounging lawn.

Although recently planted, the landscaping of the Saguaro forms a delicate edge to the otherwise color block walls of the hotel. The foliage decreases the scale of the Barragan-esque walls and softens what could otherwise be barren and, frankly, too minimal architecture.

The plantings around the central courtyard form fields of color that flow from one hue to the next. Unlike the architecture, where the color change is tessellated and changes subtlety from unit to unit, the large swaths of color are a soothing terrain.

At times, the ground color fields match their backdrop perfectly such that the wall color flows from the horizontal to the vertical surfaces. Other times, a contrast in color exists between the blossoms and their backdrop or at a larger scale between the rooms and the landscape beyond. All in all, it’s just another reason to keep on your shades on at the Saguaro Palm Springs and enjoy the scenery – be it the blooms or the bodies – by the pool.

Kara Bartelt is a design strategist in practice at kara b. studio. Kara enjoys the design process on all scales via her architectural practice, Lettuce Office, or by creating botanical art with air plants, via toHOLD. She wishes at 11:11 each day at Kara writes the Design Milk column, MilkWeed.